A REPUTATION can be made easily, but real achievements have to be earned on the track.
At York yesterday, Australia proved his merit as a Coolmore champion in definitive fashion by winning the Juddmonte International Stakes.
While hardly short on accolades, and with English and Irish Derbies already under his belt, the chestnut has still been burdened with the mantle of trainer Aidan O’Brien’s “best-ever” Flat horse since the latter part of his two-year-old days.
Dropping back to a mile and a quarter, Australia not only brushed aside the French Derby winner The Grey Gatsby by two lengths, but left experienced Group One-class elders Telescope and Mukhadram treading water on the exacting plain of the Knavesmire.
While Joseph O’Brien starved to his absolute minimum weight of 8st 12lb, it must concern connections of other leading protagonists that the jockey’s father reported Australia to have been eating rather more substantially and had ballooned to as much as 20 kilograms heavier than he was at Epsom.
Sent off the 8-13 favourite, O’Brien tried to keep a lid on his mount at the rear of the field as stablemate Kingfisher pulled the sextet along until Mukhadram tried his usual trick of staking his claim early and hit the front with three furlongs left.
It became obvious Australia was going to enter calculations when he began making progress on the wide outside but it was still surprising how easily he made it as he powered away inside the final furlong.
“He was ready for a racecourse gallop, that was where he was at,” said O’Brien snr. “His weight rose alarmingly in the last three weeks but the lads at home were very happy. He was a lot of kilos up on his Derby run – he was 15-20 kilos heavier – and that’s a lot of weight. But Joseph said that leaving the paddock in the Derby he felt like he was a two- or three-year-old, but today leaving he felt like a five-year-old. There’s such prize money here and it’s such a prestigious race that it’s very hard to gallop him at a racecourse rather than bring him here.”
O’Brien leaves decisions on planning to owners Coolmore, but said: “We had in our head to come here and then Leopardstown [Irish Champion Stakes, 13 September] if everything went well.”